Kansas judge lets Harrah's continue casino planning

Sep 9, 2008 7:04 PM

Industry Insider by Ray Poirier | Yes, said a Kansas judge, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. does have an effective non-compete agreement that expires in January, 2010.

But, the court ruling didn’t stop Harrah’s Entertainment from going forward with plans to design and build a state-owned casino in Sumner County, Kansas, a contract that was awarded last week.

Harrah’s lawyers had indicated that the lawsuit brought by Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation to halt the Sumner County development wouldn’t amount to much because the casino would not be operating until after the non-compete agreement had expired.

The company operated a casino for the tribe for a decade before bowing out late last year. In January, Harrah’s Entertainment signed an agreement that prohibited it from promoting casino activity that would interfere with its existing casino operation.

If the judge had blocked the Sumner County development from going forward, Harrah’s said, it would have doomed the project.

"We are pleased that the judge’s decision today that allows us to move forward with the planning and design for the gaming facility," said Harrah’s spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson.

"We believe that we have fully complied with our agreements with the Prairie Band and we will continue to do so in the future," she added.

The tribe alleged in its suit that Harrah’s involvement in the Mulvane casino violated its non-compete agreement. But the judge only barred Harrah’s from using the tribe’s casino customer list to attract people to the new casino.

However, the judge also ordered both sides to participate in private mediation within 30 days to resolve any other disputes that might exist.